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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers with Buddy Guy at Madison Square Garden

Mike Perciaccante By
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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers with Buddy Guy
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
July 28, 2010

Tom Petty have been making music for over 30 years (their self-titled debut on Shelter Records was released on November 9, 1976). Petty, who turns 60 in October 2010, and The Heartbreakers (Mike Campbell and Scott Thurston on guitar, Ron Blair on bass, Benmont Tench on keys and Steve Ferrone on drums) rocked Madison Square Garden with the fervor of a much younger band for a solid two hours on this warm but pleasant July evening in New York City.



Following a scorching set by blues legend Buddy Guy (his 74th birthday would be two days later on July 30th), Petty introduced himself to the sold-out crowd with the very simple yet eloquent, "Well, hello New York! It's great to be here with you once again, here in this great temple of rock!" Petty's set included the old ("Listen To Her Heart" with which he opened the show, as well as "Refugee"—the show's closer and the encores, "Runnin' Down A Dream" and "American Girl"). In between the band played a fantastic version of "Breakdown" featuring an extended ending and note-perfect versions of "You Don't Know How It Feels," "I Won't Back Down," "Free Fallin'" and "Mary Jane's Last Dance." They also jammed on an amazing cover of the early Fleetwood Mac gem, the bluesy "Oh Well."

Breaking from the "greatest hits" vibe of the show, Petty and the guys inserted a five song mini-suite featuring offerings from his 2010 Warner Brothers release, Mojo. These blues-based songs represented a very interesting 30-minute segment. Unfortunately, Buddy Guy did not appear during this bluesy portion of the concert. "Jefferson Jericho Blues" with its bluesy shuffle beat, late-'50s/mid-'60s feel and southern rock riffs was the first of the new songs to be played. "Good Enough" (which sounds like the bastard son of The Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and almost every slow-burn blues song ever recorded) was next followed by the upbeat slide guitar-driven "Running Man's Bible." The psychedelic grove of "First Flash of Freedom" and the heavy blues of "I Should Have Known It" closed out this portion of the show. Petty then returned to the hits with "Learning To Fly" and "Don't Come Around Here No More."

No artist can satisfy all of his/her fans with a performance (there are always some favorites that for one reason or another fail to make the cut). Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers are no exception. Many of the glass is half empty fans were overheard questioning, "Why didn't he play..." While it is true that they didn't play "You Got Lucky," "I Need To Know," "The Waiting," "Casa Dega," "Nightwatchman" and "Even The Losers," there are only so many songs that can be played during a single concert. On this night, the glass is half full fans were on their feet, singing along and shouting their undying adoration while cheering at the top of their lungs. At the end of "American Girl," the band lay down their instruments and advanced to the front of the stage; they all bowed after which Petty announced, "Thank you. 'Til we meet again, New York."

Supporting-act Buddy Guy's set was highlighted by the opener "Nobody Understands Me But My Guitar," "Skin Deep" (from his 2008 Zomba release of the same name), the concert staple "Someone Else is Steppin' In (Slippin' Out, Slippin' In)," "Boom! Boom!" and well-chosen Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix and Cream covers. Sadly, Guy's set was marred by the fact that the vastness of Madison Square Garden distorted the soaring highs of his meaty solos and the lack of video projection during his performance.

This was a remarkable double-bill. Both Petty and Guy are consummate showmen and the bands played their hearts out with a passion that was evident from the first note to the last.

Photo Credit

Christine Connallon

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